Words by Annah Fairservice

December’s – ‘The Winter Escape Issue’ – Download Now

Looking for swept-up desert island vibes with on-point service and picture-perfect sunsets? Head straight to the Maldives, the most elite collection of atolls in the Indian Ocean, known for its cashmere-soft sand and azure warm waters. With each resort encompassing its own private island, it’s easy to see why this hotspot is continuously ranked one of the most in-demand destinations for honeymooners and a top-selling choice for discerning Emirati travelers. Among the swathe of five-star resorts, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything other than a pure indulgence – but there is one special stay that stands out, ticking all the boxes with a series of ultra-exclusive experiences for every type of jetsetter.

The Stay

Maldives - Beach

Wrapping up a milestone year celebrating its 10th anniversary, LUX* Resorts & Hotels, the hotel group known for its laidback luxury, personalised service and good times sensibility, has not one but two sprawling island stays situated on north and south atolls from the capital Malé. We visited the latter, LUX* South Ari Atoll Resort & Villas, which is ac- cessed just a short seaplane flight away from the main airport. Pick from thatched-roof pavilion suites that open directly onto the beach and feature oversized outdoor bathtubs and showers, or in true Maldives style, opt for one of the iconic water villas on stilts, which come complete with enormous ocean-facing beds, palatial bathrooms and a generous private terrace with uninterrupted views of rippling turquoise waves. To really push the boat out, book one of the Romantic or Temptation Villas to get a private pool from which you can enjoy a floating breakfast during your morning dip.

Once you’ve settled, jump on one of the bicycles parked outside your door to work your way along the two-kilometre-long island, where you’ll pass two infinity swimming pools, a pop-up cinema on the beach, the resort’s excellent children’s club, a hid- den library nestled amongst the palm trees, a spa and yoga grove (which doubles as a sound bath studio) and eight restaurants to sample over the trip – Umami is a must-try for expertly crafted sushi and teppanyaki.

But it’s breakfast at LUX* that will make you bound out of bed in the morning, thanks to the sprawling spread of just-baked pastries, freshly blended nut butter, a juice bar with all the super powders and seeds you could possibly think of, homemade kombucha tonics, custom rice and noodle dishes, eggs any way you fancy and the island’s organic own-blend coffee.

On the south side of the island, you’ll see large floating solar panels in the sea – the largest of their kind in the world, these clever panels power much of the island. The special focus on sustainability stretches across many other areas at the resort too, such as solar-powered shuttles to ferry guests around and only refillable glass water bottles in rooms and restaurants thanks to a commitment to ban all single-use plastics.

The Experiences

Maldives outdoors

Whether you intend on letting the days roll into one by mastering the art of doing nothing on a shady sun lounger or instead plan on hitting the water activities and scuba diving alongside whale sharks, rays and turtles, there’s more than enough to keep you entertained for weeks on end.

Maldives - Sushi

The resort also offers a unique collection of tailor-made packages to ensure you get the absolute most out of your trip, including a castaway-inspired beach picnic, guided stargazing, catamaran sailing lessons, coral planting with a Marine Biologist and cooking classes using fresh ingredients from the island’s own herb garden.

The Beach Bride

Always dreamed of saying “I do” with a chilled-out ceremony and your feet in the sand? The island’s resident events team will work closely with the bride and groom to bring weddings of all visions to life. Be it a big barbeque feast and bonfire on the beach, or a more intimate candlelit ceremony, every single detail from flowers to confetti and cakes can be taken care of. Contact stay@luxmaldivesresort.com to view LUX*s destination wedding catalog.

The All In

Maldives room

As the resort is set on a private island sur- rounded by nothing but stretches of sea, it makes sense (not to mention incredible value) to steer towards one of the all-inclusive packages. This way you won’t have to think twice about signing for poolside cocktails or continuously bringing out a credit card, as every sip, snack and feast will already be covered and you can order away to your heart’s content.

What to pack

The island’s dress code is decidedly relaxed. Anything goes in the wardrobe department here, so spend your days in nothing but swimwear, sarongs and oversized linen shirts – swapped for free-flowing trapeze dresses in the evening. And on your soles? It’s barefoot or flat sandals all the way, leave heels at home.

December’s – ‘The Winter Escape Issue’ – Download Now

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Images: Supplied